The question that Nathan asks this month, however, is whether pharmaceutical companies should actually be advertising directly to consumers about their brands or disease types. In other words, should we be following the American way? Our columnist provides a balanced argument but is largely not in favour of this movement for reasons of bias and lack of impartiality. I have to say, I fully agree with him. Perhaps there is a way that the pharmaceutical industry can get the right message across to patients because I am fully in favour of patient education; however, it's doing it the right way and I don't believe that blatant advertising is the way to go. Social media is one of the tools that is currently under review by several big pharma manufacturers, so too are patient group websites, online educational forums, etc. Our industry is still testing the water, quite rightly, with trepidation, but hopefully companies will hit on the right methods of communicating with patients that are hungry for information. My guess is that this will involve a holistic approach, where a number of online tools are used to deliver the right information. Question is, will patients be able to decipher the reliable sources from the unreliable ones? We've been chatting about this on our LinkedIn group ( http://www.pharmtech.com.linkedin) already, why not join the discussion and let us know what you think?
For now, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and all of the very best for a successful 2011.
Fedra Pavlou, Editor-in-Chief